Dr. Julie Damron

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Common eye problems in pets and what is an emergency

Growths around the eye on the eyelid and surrounding tissue often do not pose a serious threat to you companion. Most commonly they are caused by cysts of the Meibomian glands that secrete lubrication to the eye, or are warts. Even when they touch the surface of the eye, the cornea, they may not need to be removed if they are not causing trauma or significant discomfort. Swelling or infection of the gland of the third eyelid, commonly called a Cherry eye is significant. It seldomly responds to topical therapy, and usually requires a surgical repair.

Squinting or holding the eyelids closed suggests significant pain, and is generally caused by a cut on the surface of the eye called an ulcer. This is most often from direct trauma such as fighting or running into something. It can also be the result of foreign material that becomes trapped in the eye lid or surrounding conjunctival. Typically there is also significant tear production, and dogs and cats may be rubbing the affected eye. This condition requires immediate attention. If left untreated, all layers of the cornea can erode and the eye can rupture.

Minor clear discharge with or without the white of the eye being bloodshot is usually suggestive of allergies. This is not a significant health risk to your pet, although it may be uncomfortable. Yellow or green exudate is a more serious medical concern because it suggests infection, and should be addressed promptly. Mucus discharge can be due to reduced tear production, and also should be treated right away. If left untreated, this can cause significant damage to the cornea, and reduce vision.

Changes in the size or shape of they eye should receive prompt medical attention. This can be due to a tumor, glaucoma or high pressure in the eye, a shift in location of the lens, or other issues. All of these conditions can result in blindness and require immediate treatment. Surgery may be needed to correct these problems. If you cannot see the normal iris or pupil structures, this is also an emergency.

Grayness of the lens may or may not be a significant health issue. As your pet ages, the lens will become thicker as more layers of cells build up. This is a normal change that doesn’t affect vision. When a light is shined in the eye during a veterinary examination, the lens is still transparent. Cataracts, however, is a structural change to the lens that does affect vision. It is a significant health concern because of this. Certain causes such as Diabetes can have deleterious affects throughout the body. To the naked eye, they can both appear the same; it is important that you bring your dog or cat to the veterinarian promptly to determine the underlying cause.

Any sudden change in vision is significant. This can be caused by a multitude of ailments, some of which are treatable, and some of which are not. There are many systemic diseases that can result in eye pathology including but not limited to Diabetes, Hypertension/high blood pressure, Glaucoma/high eye pressure, Cardiac disease, Kidney disease, Cushings, Hypothyroidism, Sudden Acute Retinal Degeneration, Cataracts, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline Leukemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Ehrlichia, Fungal disease, Bacterial disease, Viral disease, and others. Your veterinarian is a pivotal person to help identify the underlying health problem. A referral to a Veterinary Ophthalmologist may be recommended.

Eye problems are often treated with topical eye medications and the use of an Elizabethan or e-collar to prevent further damage to the eye. Some conditions can require surgery, and can require treatment from a Veterinary Ophthalmologist. In cases where there has been significant irreversible eye damage, eye removal or enucleation may be suggested. Please feed your canine or feline a high quality nutrionally balanced diet. Just like in people, vitamins and minerals are important for good eye health. Please remember, as with other health problems, treatment in the early stages most often leads to a better outcome.

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Comments 1

Guest - Sarah Smith on Friday, 21 December 2018 12:08

I noticed that my cocker spaniel has been rubbing her eyes a lot and was wondering if she might have allergies. Your advice to check the discharge from her eyes to see if it's just allergies or if she has an infection is really helpful. When I get home, I'll be sure to check and take her to a veterinarian if the discharge is yellow or green.

I noticed that my cocker spaniel has been rubbing her eyes a lot and was wondering if she might have allergies. Your advice to check the discharge from her eyes to see if it's just allergies or if she has an infection is really helpful. When I get home, I'll be sure to check and take her to a veterinarian if the discharge is yellow or green.
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Saturday, 11 July 2020

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